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Making Heritage Scrapbooks
Submitted : March 25, 2006 by Joanna Rycroft
Making a scrapbook of your heritage is a wonderfully creative way to tell your family story.
Each page brings your ancestors alive to your scrapbook viewers. You are part of a family that
started further back than anyone can remember. So tell everyone about it in your own unique way.
This article will give you a few "starter" ideas for creating a heritage scrapbook album.
Since you are telling a story, be sure to include the happy and not-so-happy events in your
heritage scrapbook. When someone died is as important as their wedding day. It completes the person.
So think about including obituaries and death certificates in addition to the wedding announcements
and "baby's footprints".
Since it will most likely take you more then one heritage scrapbook, put a title page in the
front of each album with a "whose inside" overview - perhaps in a family tree structure along
with your name and the date you made the heritage scrapbook. You can print out something nice
on your computer and glue it on the album page.
Be sure to include pictures with a brief biography about the person(s). Putting a matte behind the
picture, in a contrasting color to your album page, will make it stand out and catch the viewers
attention. You could use a picture caption of who they are and relation to you (i.e., "John and
Mary Smith, My maternal great grandparents"). Or, you might want to put a small descendant tree
on the page showing the person and their family.
We recommend that you do not put one-of-a-kind photo originals in your heritage scrapbooks. Get
copies made and store the originals in a safe place. By the way, you can make nice copies of
black & white pictures by using a color copier.
Include three dimensional items, if you have them, such as medals, tassels, a lock of hair,
grandma's hair pin. You get the idea. Memorabilia pockets are the best way to display them
in an album.
Consider adding your own words through journaling on the scrapbook page. Tell your thoughts
about the person or a discovery you made while researching them. Perhaps you have a theory
about why great-grandpa ran away from home at an early age. Adding your own words will be
special to people who look at your album generations from now.
But perhaps you're hesitant to make a heritage scrapbook because you think you need a photograph
of the person, and they're simply not always available. Although photography has been around
for well over a century, pictures beyond a couple of generations can be rare in a family. If
you're in this situation, you can still make artistic pages to display your family heritage.
You just have to use other materials.
Assuming there are no pictures, then the materials you have on an ancestor can generally be
put into three categories: Documents, Memorabilia, or Data. They can be
used singly or in combination in your scrapbook to tell your ancestor's story. Documents
can include Birth/death/marriage certificates, Invitations & greeting cards , Military records,
Letters, Pages from bibles etc.
These documents tell your family history in some way. Use them in your scrapbook to tell about
the life of the person. For example, mount a marriage license using photo corners, then journal
on the page about their life based on the facts your gathered during your research: "Great grandma
Betty Jones was typical for her day, getting married at the young age of 17 ..." Be creative with
your narrative. Spice up the page by adding clip art that relates to the event or time. In our
example, we could add wedding related items.
Just like documents, the same technique can be done with Memorabilia. Memorabilia may include
Medals, Buttons, Pins, Ticket Stubs etc.
If they're not too big, mount them on the page with a memorabilia pocket. An alternative would be
to take a picture or scan of the item and use it on your page. Then, write up a paragraph about the
person and weave the item into the story.
What if you have no documents or memorabilia? Use your Data to write a brief biography that
gives the essentials of your ancestor's life. Then, include as many related "visuals" related to the period
that they lived in. Or, focus on one aspect of your ancestor's life, like their occupation or where they lived,
and write a brief narrative about it, then include "visuals" on your page like a map showing where they lived
and pictures of the city or town for that period.
Add "spice" to your heritage scrapbook album by choosing pleasing colors for pages and mattes, adding
borders and scrapbook stickers, using rubber stamps. Even lace and dried flowers can be used on a page. Try
textured paper for a different look.
Have fun with it. The only limit is your imagination !!